Friday night topic: The soft side of a build

I just spent the last couple of days building myself a new PC for the first time in quite a while, and I noticed, as I installed the software and migrated my data from my old system, what an intricate operation it was. I tend to install the OS and drivers in a certain order, and then I have a pretty broad scope of applications that I can't live without. It's all very precise. For instance, I did the OS and drivers in this order: WinXP, SP2, chipset drivers, GigE drivers, aux storage drivers, video drivers, sound drivers, printer drivers, camera drivers. My list of programs that must be installed before I can really consider a PC ready for use includes: Avast!, MS Antispyware Beta, MS Office, EditPad, Paint Shop, Photoshop, HomeSite, Quicktime, Adobe Reader, Groove, Konfabulator, Trillian, Skype, Steam, SSH client, Winamp, WinSCP, Firefox, DynDNS updater, Express Assist 7. There are definitely a few more, as well, but that's a good chunk of the list.

In some ways, I think this in-between area—after the hardware build and before the PC is "finished"—is the most taxing part of building a PC (so long as you don't run into serious hardware problems.) Yet there's probably no one "right" way to do it, and I suspect we all do things a little differently. What about you? What must you install on a new system before it's ready for use, and in what order do you install things? Is it just scattershot until it's done, or are you meticulous about what happens when and how?


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